40-year milestone: Celebrating with ‘Miss Karin’

Karin Watts is celebrating both 40 years of IEU membership and her 40-year career at Norwood Community Preschool.

Watts spent much of her teenage years babysitting, and so she set her sights on a career as a teacher.

After a false start at one centre where things did not go to plan, Watts found her ideal workplace in Sydney’s north-west, where she still works today.

She’s proud to have been a teaching director at Norwood Community Preschool for 40 years.

“I enjoy the privilege of being the children’s first teacher and mentor for their future learning,” she said. “I have met and worked with so many amazing children, families and colleagues.”

In the early years, Watts remembers that the centre had only 15 children per day, and they attended only staggered mornings rather than full days.

Inside, Norwood had one small room, but the preschool boasted an enormous backyard where the children could play and explore, and most activities were held there.

“It has seen many changes over the years,” said Watts, and today Norwood “is a more complete structured service”.

The preschool now operates out of a Hornsby Shire Council building.

Watts finds working in a not-for-profit community preschool very satisfying.

“Parent involvement is pivotal to the viability of the preschool. In a rapidly changing world, I feel privileged to be viewed as ‘constant’ Miss Karin at Norwood.

“Teaching second generation children provides a historical connection,” Watts said.

“Norwood has always been fortunate to have long-term dedicated staff who work above and beyond, embracing the values of a community-based preschool.”

And that dedicated staff includes Watts’s job-share teaching partner Beverley Gowenlock, who has worked alongside her for 23 years.

Gowenlock and Watts were groundbreakers in introducing job-sharing to the preschool when it was a new concept.

Watts’s role has changed in recent years, she’s now a non-teaching director, which involves more administration and accountability, she said.

“However, I still love engaging with the children and families during the day and filling in as a teacher during staff absences.”

No matter what her work involves, Watts values her IEU membership. The union is “a great support for early childhood education and continues to lobby on our behalf”, she said.